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Resolving conflict through peacemaking

Image of kids holding hands in a circle
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Resolving conflict through peacemaking

Karen Biestman talks about a framework long used by indigenous communities that can help students, parents and teachers better understand one another.

For centuries, tribal communities have turned to peacemaking circles as a way to address conflict, bringing individuals together for a conversation grounded in values and a desire for understanding. Now this approach is finding its way into the classroom.

Peacemaking is “a framework for intentional listening, better understanding and ultimately healing,” says Karen Biestman, a longtime practitioner who currently serves as associate dean and director of the Native American Cultural Center at Stanford University. “It’s simple, but it’s not easy to do.”

On this episode of School’s In, Biestman joins GSE Dean Dan Schwartz and Senior Lecturer Denise Pope to talk about what peacemaking circles involve and how the framework can be helpful in situations where individuals are experiencing conflict. She also shares examples of how it has been applied in educational settings.

Peacemaking isn’t a quick fix, says Biestman, and it’s not about winning or losing—above all, the goal is to promote understanding. “Regardless of whether you get the outcome that you want, you feel seen and heard,” she says. “It allows you to coexist and move forward.”

You can listen to School's In on SiriusXM, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher and Soundcloud.

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